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Old 06-05-2015, 22:11   #1
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ASA Sailing lessons?

I would like to get some opinions from some of the experienced folks around here.

Do ASA Fast Track courses actually teach as much as they claim?

Would I be better off bribing an old salt to "learn me the hard way"?

I care more about practical knowledge than certificates if that makes sense.


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Old 07-05-2015, 01:05   #2
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

Why not do both?

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Old 07-05-2015, 01:33   #3
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

Took a lot of ASA a few years ago and they did a great job. They are professional and know how to teach. I can attest to them as now with my own boat and thousands of miles under my keel including a 2 handed Atlantic crossing. After I took the lessons did sail with a few old salts and boy never again they said I don't care what ASA says just do it this way; nope. Of course those old salts are still at the dock giving advise and me well I am just putting miles under my keel and visiting new ports. Last year over 3,000nm, over 30 ports of call in 7 countries.
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Old 07-05-2015, 01:39   #4
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

Originally Posted by ttex View Post
Do ASA Fast Track courses actually teach as much as they claim?
The question could be turned around - Do you learn as much they want you to? Or as much as YOU want to?

Cramming more material and practical training into fewer days just means you'll have less free time during the day to study, absorb, and relax. Same thing is done with "quick" PADI dive training. The full (normal?) training for a particular certification might take X days, but there are lots of places offering that training in half-of-X time for people who are on time-limited vacations.

I've been through both ASA and PADI training for a variety of certifications, and at least for my approach, I learned 90% of everything they were going to teach me *before* I went in for the lessons. It's easy enough - almost all the related materials can be found online and/or in Kindle book format.

If you honestly don't care about the certification - and don't need it to charter - then you can gain all the knowledge on your own without going through the course.
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Old 07-05-2015, 04:04   #5
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

As someone who has had PADI advanced open water certification
for almost 40 years and who has seen many new divers ( including my son)
get certified in a "Quicky Course" They for sure teach you just enough to
Get You Killed. Ask a new diver to explain partial pressure or do
A complex multi dive,multi location, decompression plan and then let's throw in
A few airplane flights.
As for ASA and Old Salts
My plan is doing both except I swapped ASA for RYA
Sailing the paint off my daysailer
I have learned to take old salt advice with a grain of salt
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Old 07-05-2015, 04:59   #6
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

I took ASA lessons and it was with an "old salt". For the most part you will learn what you want to learn and it is really up to you to have done the reading and shown up really (and knowing what you need) to learn.

The reason you take ASA instead of the just doing a plain "old salt" route is that the only reason you are doing it is because you have no experience and you need the documented qualification for later. I haven't been an ASA member since my first year.
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Old 07-05-2015, 05:22   #7
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

I would say that the ASA courses can be very good, or only mediocre, depending entirely on whether or not you get a good teacher. I had already owned a couple of boats and done a lot of sailing when I took my first ASA course, and I still think it was worthwhile--I definitely learned some things.

Beyond that, you say you don't care about certifications, but are you sure that you never will? In the Caribbean they are generally pretty relaxed, and you can charter a boat based on your experience. But if you ever want to to do a bareboat charter in the Mediterranean there are a number of countries there where you are required by law to have a certification.

Good luck, whatever you do.
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Old 07-05-2015, 06:17   #8
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

Do you like to learn on your own? If so:

Get a small boat and go out on a light wind day. See chart(s) below.

Where your PFD. Tell someone where you are going.

You are set.

If no, get someone to help or go to ASA.
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Old 07-05-2015, 07:22   #9
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

They do teach you as much as they long as you invest into it appropriately.

I just finished the one week live-aboard 101/103/104 ASA courses in Ft Lauderdale. I've been sailing smaller boats my entire life and I learned a tremendous amount about larger monohull cruising in the ASA program. The preparation, pre-reads, studying the books thoroughly, taking the practice quizzes well before you take the course is almost as important as the course itself. As great as the course was for my personal learning, techniques, systems, etc.., one of the most important things to do is to continue on-water experience shortly after the course to apply what you have learned without the instructor (and students) looking over your shoulder and guiding you. I just chartered (with my wife) a 4-day and that completely validated my confidence as well as to test and apply what I learned with ASA.
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Old 07-05-2015, 07:38   #10
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

As already stated it depends on you. I'm good at teaching myself things and learning from books on my own. I took a week long class in La Paz at the beginning of this year. I had already digested the books prior to showing up and could have taken the written tests the first day and passed. I took the class mostly because I'm the only person I know that is getting into sailing so didn't have an experienced "friend" who could take me out on his boat and teach me. So this trip allowed me to get some experience in actually handling of the boat while having someone on board who could be there in case I made a major mistake. So there was value in my particular case but I could have got just as much if there was someone I knew that had a boat and could show me the ropes.

They do teach focused on getting you to pass the test vs teaching you to know.

If you do a week long trip to learn 101 - 104, realize that it's not a vacation. You cram a lot into those 7 days and don't really have time to play.

A side value that I didn't really intend was that I actually am ending up using the 104 to join a sail club and charter boats to get more experience while I'm saving up to buy a boat. If I owned my own boat though it wouldn't have any value.
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Old 07-05-2015, 09:49   #11
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

Thank you everyone. You answered my questions quite well and I appreciate it.
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Old 07-05-2015, 10:45   #12
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

I second all Denverd0n had to say. I passed my ASA certification 201 (to teach 101) a few years ago. I would look for a school that offers extensive courses that are actually being taught, and ideally with a 'distinguished' instructor that has been recognised by ASA. I would get specifics from any school about their courses. There are a few that split ASA 101 into two courses with additional fees for ASA certification.
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Old 07-05-2015, 11:09   #13
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

My only two instructors have been 20 and 70. Very different personalities, but both very knowledgeable and I learned what I could in the time I had with them. Lucky for them and me, I am an avid reader and could have passed the tests the moment I walked in; what I needed, and got, from them was on the water experience.
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Old 07-05-2015, 11:51   #14
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

I notice no discussion of US Sailing.

I took some courses from OCSC in Berkeley, CA (a US Sailing school) and three weeks of live aboard training from the Adriatic Nautical Academy, a RYA certified school in Croatia. I found OCSC to be far superior. I suspect the difference was the school and the instructors rather than the organization they were in association with.

Yet I hold a RYA Yachtmaster Theory certificate and found that training from a RYA school to be very rigorous.

Is there anyone who can tell me the substantive difference in ASA, US Sailing, and RYA? Or is it really the school and the instructor one sails with? -- I am decidedly undecided.
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Old 07-05-2015, 12:41   #15
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Re: ASA Sailing lessons?

@dougdaniel--coincidentally I had excellent experiences with OCSC/US Sailing. I learned a lot about didactics and teaching from Dave Lumian with ASA who taught the ASA 201 course. I hadn't considered RYA, but that would probably be best for chartering in Europe. I don't see any listed on the West Coast of USA.

US Sailing puts out the racing rules, and participated in the investigation of a race boat that capsized offshore from SF Bay. But I expect the basic courses are similar to ASA, and YMMV with the instructor.

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